Celebrating Get To Know Your Customers Day, Every Day


Even though last week had a specified day to get to know customers, we here at Sharn want to celebrate that every day.  Plenty of times customers aren’t appreciated the way that they should be.   We often forget that the customer is always right and the customer is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle of a successful business. Getting to Know Your Customers Day should not just be one day, but be a goal throughout the entire year.  This is a great opportunity to reset our minds on how to build successful relationships with our customers.

Here are some tips that will help with getting to know your customer, according to ImpactLearning.com:

Follow Up Calls:

Turn the tables on your customer and make the initial phone call to ask them a question before they decide to call you.  Take the time to call them and follow up with how they like their product or services thus far.  Also, make sure to ask how they can be helped with anything.  Be careful not to make this sound like a sales call, as that is not your intent.

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Surveys:

Use social media to gather surveys from your customers, as this is a great way to gather feedback from them.  Facebook, Twitter,  and SurveyMonkey are great websites to put a survey on, you may also want to include a promo or instant gift for answering the survey.  This gives the customer a special feeling and lets them know you’re serious about getting feedback from them.

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Thank You Notes:

If a note is handwritten, it will make it feel personalized and specific to one customer. Here at Sharn, we are all about being personable with our customer.  Using the person’s first name instead of using their full name in a letter makes it seem less computer generated, and more real.

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Whether you are a small or large business, one thing to always keep in mind is, “Where would I be without my customers?”

For more information on Sharn’s products and services, check out http://www.sharndisplays.com or give us a call at 815-464-9715.

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Source:

http://www.impactlearning.com/get-to-know-your-customers-day/

3 Common Myths About Custom Store Fixtures


According to POPAI (2009), slightly over 60% of total purchases are attributed to the retail display as the major promotional element within the store.  Because consumers are bombarded with competing information while shopping, it is more important than ever to compete for the customer’s dollar.

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Consumers usually have a goal to accomplish when they decide to shop at a store. A way to gain attention may be from a custom product display.  But, there is some hesitation when it comes to custom POP fixtures.  Here are three common misconceptions about custom retail displays:

A Custom Made Retail Display is Too Expensive.  

This myth is just plain wrong.  A purchase of a custom made, semi-permanent display often results in far less cash being spent on a particular project.  You may think that you are getting a bargain by purchasing a low cost, corrugated display for your product, but that often is not true.  Sure, the individual piece price might be less expensive at the time of purchase, but when you add in the extra cost for tooling as well as the overrun amount you are  obligated to take, it usually winds up with you spending more.  Also, when you consider the replacement cost of a corrugated display 3 to 6 months later, your expense continues to grow.

A Cheaper, Stock Display Serves My Purpose Just As Well.

Not true!   Your product is unique, and you have put a lot of money, time and energy into the product and its packaging.  Where are you going to get a stock display that maximizes the amount of pieces you want to include in your display?

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Our designers here at Sharn calculate that for you to be certain that you’re getting the most out of your investment.  Retail floor space is like gold, so you want to maximize the number of products offered, given the space that your retailer has allotted to you.

Getting a Custom Made Display is a Hassle.

Not with Sharn Enterprises!  We have professional designers that will work with you to not only get your product noticed, but get sold! Our designers will ask you about your particular program, product, and overall goal.  They will give you options in order to discover your unique look by offering combinations of various materials and design. Finally, they will come up with a production plan and pricing that fits your timing, specific quantity, and most importantly, your budget.  When you partner with Sharn Enterprises you never have to worry about the details… that’s what we do.

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For more information about our custom retail fixtures and displays, please visit our website at http://www.sharndisplays.com or call 815-464-9715. 

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn!

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Sharn Enterprises, “A Proud American Manufacturer.”

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Temporary vs. Permanent POP Displays


With so many choices in the retail merchandising world, it is no wonder retailers and product marketers are not sure where to start when it comes to making decisions about a point-of-purchase product display.  From simple branding, to color, to material types and kinds, heads start to spin and ideas seem to run wild when the possibilities are endless.  In order to better understand what type of display fits your brand and product’s needs, you may need to ask yourself some basic questions about your retail display:

Ask yourself and your team:

  1. What is the objective? Do I want to launch a new product?  Do I need to promote a trial run, an out-of-stock item, or just show off my brand’s image?
  2. How long should the program last? 4-6 weeks? 7-12 weeks? Longer?

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 A retail display must communicate vital information to the consumer, including position, value, and an overall image to encourage consumers to buy.  Customers want to touch, experience, and connect to a product; therefore a custom display is a necessity to retailers and marketers alike.  There are two types of point-of-purchase displays that a retailer can choose from.  Which type best fits your brand?

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A TEMPORARY POP DISPLAY

The first is a temporary display.  This type of display is designed for a period of 4-12 weeks and is usually constructed in corrugated (cardboard) material with a screen, flood, or litho print graphics. They are designed for one-use only, and are an effective way to communicate a low-cost brand position so they can be seen as “cheap and cheerful.”

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Pros and Cons of Temporary Displays:

Pros- Up-front costs effective for distribution and inventory gains, look and feel is usually rectangular and positions a low price point value product well, used for specific objective for a short time, can be recycled, versatile, light-weight.

Cons- Assembly required, short life cycle management, low perceived value, store staff removes from floor quickly, can take a beating from overall store floor (customers, floor cleaners, movement, etc.), high tooling price.

PERMANENT POP DISPLAY

The second type of display is permanent.  These displays are designed for a displays period of 12-52 weeks and are made with more durable materials.  This is Sharn’s specialty!    These types of displays have limitless potential in terms of design, materials and functionality.  Plastic, wood, and metal are just some of the strong materials used in the construction of these displays in order to capture the brand’s positioning and essence. Red-Camel

Pros and Cons of Permanent Displays

Pros-  Claims retail territory, cost-effective life cycle management, completely flexible and can be designed to anything you want it to be, simple implementation (shipped and ready to go),  better reflection of brand positioning, which increases market share, flexibility of use, ability to last long, unique to product, can be used for years.

Cons- Higher upfront costs, but display cost per week is lower due to longevity on floor, longer planning time for proper engineering and prototyping

In summary:

When considering your retail display strategy, there are many factors to consider when choosing the type of retail display for your products.  It’s not just a home for your product; it’s where they get sold!

You must consider your overall objective, your timeline, your needs as well as the needs of the retailer, ability to reflect brand image.

Of course, here at Sharn we are a bit biased towards permanent displays.  Since 1974, we have been designing and manufacturing custom retail fixtures out of wood, metal, and acrylic.  If your needs align with our capabilities, let us know and we will do everything in our power to make your product and display stand out among the rest.

For more information on Sharn Enterprises, Inc’s permanent displays, check out their website at http://www.sharndisplays.com.

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Source: http://www.traitech.com/secondary_retail_display.html

Taking a Step Into the Real World


by: Chelsey Heft, Marketing Intern

Growing up, school was never easy for me.  I never got the grades that my parents expected me to get, even though I always tried my best.  So when I hit the age where I was able to start working, I took every opportunity to work everyday and on the weekends to get experience.  The opposite of school, I realized that working, making connections, and meeting new people is what came easy to me.

When I graduated from high school, I knew that I had to go to college and get my degree.  I started off at Moraine Valley and then transferred to Eastern Illinois University to major in Special Education.  Unfortunately, I found out that special education was not the field for me.  The longer I sat in my Special Education classes the more I started to get lost and not understand the information that was being thrown my way.  I became overwhelmed at the fact I picked the wrong area of study, but knew that I had to figure out what I actually liked to do.

After some soul-searching and realizing my strengths (talking to people and making connections),  I figured out that a degree in Communication was for me.  I decided to move back home and make Governors State University my school of choice.  Currently, this is where I am finishing up my degree in Communications.

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As a graduation requirement, I had to find an internship.  One day I stumbled upon the marketing internship email application for Sharn Enterprises, Inc.  I was having terrible luck applying for internships on my own, so I figured why not try for an internship that Governor’s State was connected with.

Shortly after applying, I received a phone call asking if I would like to set up an interview time and of course I said yes!

Then all of the questions started running through my head like they would with any other person. “What do I wear? What do I say? You better make sure you have questions prepared!”  After interviewing with Stephanie and Roger, I got the call that I received the internship, and I was elated!

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Since being here at Sharn Enterprises as a marketing intern, I have taken in a great amount of knowledge.  From researching new leads, to being the main liaison for a new CRM system, to constructing strategic posts on social media, and putting together marketing campaigns, I can say that when I do head out into the work world that I will definitely feel that I have one leg up over the competition.

The meaning of graduation to me is a massive accomplishment that everyone should be proud of.  After finishing the internship with Sharn, I now am finished with my overall degree!  I am so happy (and even relieved) that I am finally done with school and can start focusing on the things I am good at.  

In the last five months, I have learned so much and I continue to learn each day.  When there is a new task I am always ready take it on. This has been quite the learning experience for me.  I am so glad I was able to take the ride at Sharn Enterprises, Inc.

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For more information on Sharn Enterprises, Inc.’s products and services, visit their website at http://www.sharndisplays.com.  For internship opportunities at Sharn, contact Stephanie at sshostok@sharndisplays.com.

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5 Ways Being a Former Athlete Translates Into Your Professional Life


Growing up, sports were always a major part of my everyday life.  From playing t-ball as a six year-old, to playing collegiate volleyball, my days revolved around practices, scrimmages, tournaments; all of the above.  Reflecting back at my past world, I realize that being involved in sports not only helped me transition into to the professional world, they taught me valuable skills I currently utilize and will continue to develop long into my career.  Here are five ways being a former athlete translates into your professional life:

1. You know the importance of being on time… all too well. 

I remember one morning waking up late for a volleyball practice in college because I set my alarm for PM instead of AM.  I woke up in a panic at 6:05 am when practice started promptly at 6:00am.  I jumped sky-high out of bed, threw on my glasses and sped to the gym.  When I got there, I knew exactly what was waiting for me: sprints.  I ran those sprints and promised myself from that day on to always double-check my alarm clock before going to bed.

This same principle goes into effect when you are in the professional world.  You may not have to run sprints if you are late for a meeting, but it throws off the entire team.  Your punishment may come in missing out on important details or even losing a sale.  Punctuality showcases respect for your own time, and more importantly, other people’s time.

2. You are competitive.

You know that practice makes perfect, and that it was all worth it when game time came.  Your desire to win was evident and you wanted to be the best athlete you could be.  The same goes for your professional life.  Being competitive is a fundamental part of growing in your position and career.   It shows that you have drive, ambition, goals, and tenacity.  Employers want to see this side of you, and being in sports previously fosters this skill.

3. You know how to win, and you know how to lose.

You have lost the big game in regionals, you have messed up on a play, and you have had your good and bad days.  The best part about it is that you know how to use those experiences as opportunities to learn, and grow for the next challenge.  You keep trying and never give up on the things that matter most.  You also know that there will more opportunities to get yourself a win, if you do lose.

4. You are a team player.

You have been on a team all of your life and know that if your teammate does well, the whole team does well.  Same principle applies in the workforce.  If there is a large project that has to be worked on as a unit, you know how to extend your hand and offer support.  You know that if the project goes well, then the whole entire company does well.

5. You communicate.

In volleyball, you have to call “mine” when the ball is coming towards you to let the other players know you are going to take it.  When there was no communication between me and my other teammates while on the court, the ball dropped right in the middle of us.  Speaking up and allowing a fluid transmittal of communication not only helps make the play, but also leads the team to success.  Same rule applies in a company.

What if you assumed your co-worker finished the project you were working on together, when he/she didn’t?  The figurative ball was dropped and the project didn’t get finished.  Now you have an unhappy boss. You know that simple updates, the effective flow of communication leads to better results.

Here at Sharn, we know the value of the above skills.  We strive to be on time, be competitive with our prices, be team players, and communicate with our customers and clients.  We design custom point-of-purchase displays for retail, so our communication is vital.  We want to win your business, and being a company with former athletes as employees, we stop at nothing to earn it!

Interested in our products or services?  Visit http://www.sharndisplays.com or call 815-464-9715!

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The Lost Art of the Follow-Up


In my experience at Sharn Enterprises, Inc., I have encountered different situations that deal with client building, customer relationships, and overall account management.  The most important I have come to realize is the art of the follow-up.

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What sparked my in-depth thought about the follow-up was an email I received from a potential customer.  It read,

“I will stay in touch.  I am sure we can do some things together and I appreciate your efforts and follow-up.  It’s a refreshing change!!”

This note not only made my day, but also got my wheels turning.   If I can provide a “refreshing change” for a customer who is not used to follow-ups and attempts to make an effort, then Sharn Enterprises gains an opportunity to earn new business. Thus, when you’re not reaching out to a potential or even a current client, you may miss a potential opportunity and that client may take their business elsewhere.  GoTo Market Strategies (2014) supports this and states, “only 50% of marketing leads have received a follow-up from sales or channel partners, making it the top reason a product wasn’t purchased.”

The definition of a follow-up is when you check-in with a customer or client to give them a heads up, update, or even a general hello.  The follow-up can also take on different hats, including being a marketing boost.  For example, a once booming client may have lost touch with your organization for no specific reason, just plain evolution.  Reaching out could remind a client of your services and help them realize you are just the right person to help with an upcoming project.

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You see, the follow-up is sometimes unexpected, unwarranted, and ignored.  In other instances, the follow-up is welcomed, unexpected (in a good way), and appreciated.  And the latter version is where your company (and Sharn Enterprises, Inc.) maximizes its results.

As a marketing and sales professional, I want to be known as the person that makes the extra effort.  I want to my client to know that I care and I am willing to go the extra mile.  I do not want to be apart of the other 50% and lose potential business.

As I get off my soapbox, here are some ways that you and your sales team can increase productivity by going back to the basics, by bringing back the lost art of the follow-up:

1. Send an email– Do not just cut and paste.  Write a thoughtful note that doesn’t seem like Siri was the author.

2. Write a letter– Once again, no copying and pasting.  Key word here is “write.”  A hand-written note shows consideration and time was taken in order to really delve deep into thought.  A letter is personal, warm, and is an extremely thoughtful follow-up approach.

3. Pick up the phone- If emailing or writing a note seems too trivial for your specific customer, give them a ring.  A phone call allows for the inflection of your voice to be expressed.  If you’re excited about an upcoming project you are working on for that client, it will be heard in your voice.  Most importantly, be yourself.

4. Send follow-up information right after a meeting– During your meeting, write down notes for yourself.  For example, when I meet with a new client, I write down notes as well as detailed data so I am able to mock-up a custom display idea right after the meeting.  You are human; you can’t remember every detail, so writing notes down can help recall all key points discussed.

5. Keep an eye out for the small things– During your initial meeting, keep an eye out for body language, words, or expressions that piqued your customer’s interest and got them excited to work with you.  Refer back to these in your follow-up approach.

6. Agree– If you agree with a point made by your customer, let them know!  This builds trust and lets the client know you are listening and on the same page.

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At Sharn Enterprises, Inc. we have seen the follow-up truly work.  Like my dad always says,

“If you try and don’t succeed, it’s better than not trying at all.”

For more information on Sharn Enterprises, Inc.’s custom POP displays and store fixtures, please visit http://www.sharndisplays.com or call 815-464-9715.

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